By: Deb Well
PAICR Board of Directors member
PAICR Member since 2006
Twitter has always had a bit of an identity crisis.
If I asked you what you thought about Twitter six months ago – your answer would likely be different than today. A place for Breaking News? A world that revolves around all things Kardashian? A place to commune with other like-minded souls during live TV events (the Super Bowl, the premiere of The Walking Dead, or Sharknado – numbers 1-4)? Lately, of course, Twitter has been at the center of politics and public debate, and is the favorite way for the President to communicate directly with the people.
But how can Twitter be useful to you?
Content is King
Twitter is a hub of what I call “curated search”. That means that things are shared there by people who have read them and find them valuable. This isn’t Google, where SEO and math algorithms determine what rises to the top. This is the human element. If you learn how to use Twitter well – you can use this platform as a tool to greatly aid in research and to stay better informed.
The Power of Lists
If you follow someone on Twitter, everything they tweet will end up in your Home Page feed. If you follow a lot of people – your Home feed can get cluttered pretty quickly. Using Lists on Twitter is a great way to create sub-feeds in a more organized fashion on specific topics. A list is a collection of specific members’ tweets. You don’t need to follow someone to make them a member of a List. For instance, I have a list called Thought Leaders, where I have Bill Gates and Daniel Pink as some of the members. I have another Tech specific list where I follow various industry sites and blogs, such as Vox, Tech Crunch and Pando Daily. You could create lists focused on experts who share about Social Media, or Design, or create a list of some of the top competitors to your firm, to keep abreast of what they are sharing.
Hashtags may have started out on Twitter, but they now are a standard tool for optimizing search on a huge number of social media platforms. If you tweet without hashtags, you are just whispering into the wind.
Hashtags started as a way to amplify words to be found in search. But they have evolved. Events now create their own hashtag so that attendees can share online content before, during, and after the event. I am sure everyone at the upcoming PAICR RFP Symposium in May will be tweeting and sharing their insights live using #PAICRRFP2017.
Hashtags have also emerged to commemorate monthly celebrations – for instance, February was #BlackHistoryMonth. Themes have also evolved for days of the week. In the UK, Tuesday is #CharityTuesday. Wednesday in the US is all about taking care of yourself with #WellnessWednesday. And if you are looking to remind people of great times past, don’t forget #TBT ( #ThrowbackThursday).
Hashtags will help you find that key content you are researching. Knowing the right ones will also help anything you share on Twitter be part of the conversation.
Follow Me, Follow You
Unlike lists, following someone on Twitter is a greater commitment – but also has specific benefits. So why follow? Because you want to see what they say every day and because of Direct Messaging. If I follow Beyoncé, she can send me a direct message. (I didn’t say she would – but she Can). Direct messaging is private. It doesn’t show up on anyone’s feed. One of the most amazing things about Twitter is this aspect of universal reach.
How is this helpful? Imagine you are a CEO of a big corporation. A lot of information gets filtered before it every gets to you. But if you choose to be on Twitter – you can have direct conversations with the people who use your product. You may or may not like what they tell you, but it is a new avenue of first-hand information – without a third party in the middle possibly diluting the message.
How can this help you? Think of it as another avenue for networking. On LinkedIn, we have our connections – and connections to connections. But on Twitter, you might be able to get the attention of someone who might not be on LinkedIn – or might be beyond your circle. It gives you a chance to reach out, network, or have a conversation with people that you might not be able to reach in any other way.
The New Water Cooler
Twitter isn’t just the place that people congregate to discuss what happened last night or over the weekend. Twitter is where people are having conversations about what is happening now. It is where people are sharing important things they are reading. It’s where virtual connections are being made that couldn’t happen in the physical world. Maybe tweeting and sharing information is not your thing. But that doesn’t mean you should sit on the sidelines. Like that great party down the street that everyone is going to – if you don’t like to dance, you can still come to the party and have a great time listening to the music, meeting new people and discussing cool things.